The first year of teaching a new curriculum can leave the most seasoned teachers sweating in “survival mode”. The curriculum is not yet familiar, so analyzing and studying the curriculum first is essential. Once the lessons are studied and planned, materials need to be collected or created. Having templates, manipulatives, and other material easily accessible, is critical towards efficiently and effectively teaching. The less time spent transitioning and distributing materials, the more time spent toward teaching and learning.
Step 1: Organize materials into labeled tubs or baskets
I prefer to leave all manipulatives on a shelf so they can be accessible as needed.
This system is efficient because no time is wasted putting things away and getting them out of storage. What if you don’t have the space or resources for this kind of storage system? An alternative is to store the manipulatives in clear, re-sealable bags that are labeled and stored with other math manipulatives that are not being used. It is so important to store manipulatives so they are easily found without opening bags or having to read labels. Some teachers create table tubs with needed manipulatives per student or table. Find a quick and easy organizational system that works best for you to optimize class time.
Step 2: Organize Fluency templates
In Kindergarten, fluency templates are often used more than once. For my class I created a table of fluency templates for each module. The fluency template lesson number, name and lessons that each template is used are included in the table. So when a template is used in another lesson or module, it is documented. That way, when moving on to the next module, templates needed are listed, making it easier to pull those templates together to store with module materials.
Other lesson templates can be organized in the same manner as fluency templates. Create a table of lesson templates including the lesson, name of template and lessons in which the template is used.
Step 3: Store module lessons and materials
Storing module lessons and materials can be done in many ways. I like to have a tub or drawers where all materials are stored if possible.
Some possible suggestions for storing templates and lessons are drawers or tubs containing hanging file folders that can be labeled by module. Since a hanging file won’t support the full module, you may wish to organize the files by topics. For example, the hanging file could be labeled: Module 1 Topic A.
In my classroom, I put the Module book in a file folder along with the fluency and lesson templates. My students do not have workbooks, so I copy all Problem Sets, Exit Tickets and Homework for two weeks and put them in my weekly work tub that I call my “Sub Tub.” It is a small tub with hanging file folders that are labeled Monday-Friday. I put the current weeks’ work in the hanging file folders along with fluency and lesson templates needed. I put the second weeks’ work in the back of the tub to be filed at the end of the week. As lessons are taught I file the fluency and lesson templates back into my math tub unless needed again for that week. Lesson materials, such as personal boards, markers, and erasers are kept on a shelf for students to easily access whenever needed. These items could also be kept inside of student desks or in tubs on desks or tables.
Create a system that will be effective in your classroom. Pick a method that will be easily maintained, even during the busiest time of year. Staying organized will lead to less time wasted in search of materials and will resolve the problem of searching high and low for that missing template. Managing materials effectively will take some extra time in the beginning; however, once the nuts and bolts are in place, you can spend valuable time doing the real preparation-analyzing the curriculum and preparing to teach.